THE YEAR 5761 BOTH BEGAN and ended with
personal tragedies for me.
It began with the passing of my father,
R’ Chaim Shapiro
z”l, and ended with the tragedy of the World Trade Center
and the subsequent loss of Nancy. I have spent the last year and
a half thinking of my father. Thinking about his life, what I learned
from him, and how he would react in just about every situation.
Now my thoughts are focused on Nancy. And, incredibly, the more
I think of Nancy, the more I realize that my father and Nancy had
much in common.
This may seem odd. My father was a European who
grew up among the greatest gedolim of his generation. He lived
utterly foreign to the typical American. He was old-fashioned,
and proud of it. Nancy, on the other hand, was a thoroughly American
girl. She grew up with the comforts and styles of America, and
found a passion for biking.
How can I possibly compare the two?
The key is the word “passion.” Both
my father and Nancy had an intense passion for life. My father
would put his mind to
something and see it through to completion. He would put his heart
and soul into every project he took on, with a passion uncommon
in today’s society. Nancy was the same. She set goals for
herself, and worked very hard to reach those goals. She trained,
sweated, and put all her effort into everything she did. She lived
with passion. And just like my father, no matter what she was involved
in, no matter how engrossed she was in trying to attain her goals,
she always had time for others.
Nancy cared. She made it her business to schmooze
with fellow bikers, even those from the opposing team. She would
to her friends’ problems
and try to help in any way that she could. She loved her family—and,
oh, how she loved my kids! She gave money to poor people, substantial
sums of money, even though she didn’t make enough herself,
because “they need it more than I do.” Yes, my father
and Nancy were worlds apart, yet that passion for life and the
caring for others were evident in the both of them. It’s
no wonder that my father was so fond of Nancy.
But the comparison goes even further. My father
was a proud Jew. If he were present at an event that was contrary
to his beliefs,
he would stand up and let all those present know it. It didn’t
bother him to be different. Over and over in his life, he stood
up and declared, “I am a Jew and I’m proud of it.” Nancy
found her place among a diverse spectrum of people. Yet at all
times she knew she was a Jew, and was proud of her Jewishness.
It was so much a part of her that she too would stand up among
her friends and declare, “I am different. I don’t drive
on Shabbos. I don’t eat non-kosher food. I am a proud Jew.” What
a Kiddush Hashem!
Avi Shapiro, Nancy’s brother-in-law,
lives with Nancy’s sister, Lori, and their
children in Ramat Bet Shemesh, Israel.